Jon Fortenbury

Writer. Human being. And probably the future husband of Zooey Deschanel.

The Flawed Stigma of Short Men in America →

3 questions I ask when people tell me they want to be a writer

On a near-weekly basis, people ask me what they should do to become a professional writer. Before giving them advice, I often ask the same questions:

1.) What do you want to write? Fiction, non-fiction, articles, books, poems, etc.

2.) Have you been published before? Anywhere. Local newspaper, school publication, magazine, website, etc. If not, you need to before going for a reputable place. This may mean writing for free at first.

3.) Do you have a degree in journalism, English, public relations, technical writing, creative writing or communications? In freelance, it’s rarely asked for, but in full-time jobs, it’s often required (or just some degree with writing clips may do).

The advice I give for after figuring out #1 and completing #2 and #3 will probably be the topic of another blog. But these are the starting points.

The societal front (a short poetic rant)

What is it with this front we put on in society? When will we just allow ourselves to be who we are? Struggling people who get depressed and angry, who have kinky fantasies, who masturbate, who swear, who get sick, who sometimes have wrong beliefs and sometimes have right ones, who sometimes are good and sometimes are bad, who can love and hate more often or more intensely than ever imagined, who ultimately die and who rarely outlive three generations in memory.

Take off that ridiculous mask so I can see your humanity and connect for real.

"It’s that thing when you’re with someone, and you love them and they know it, and they love you and you know it… but it’s a party… and you’re both talking to other people, and you’re laughing and shining… and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes… but - but not because you’re possessive, or it’s precisely sexual… but because… that is your person in this life. And it’s funny and sad, but only because this life will end, and it’s this secret world that exists right there in public, unnoticed, that no one else knows about. It’s sort of like how they say that other dimensions exist all around us, but we don’t have the ability to perceive them. That’s - That’s what I want out of a relationship. Or just life, I guess." - Frances Ha (2012)

The 10 funniest observations I had while living in NYC

I wasn’t getting published when I lived in NYC, but I was writing a lot of observations in a notebook. Here are my 10 favorite, in no particular order:

  1. I want to hear the phrase “and then one thing led to another” in a non-sexual situation. Like, “I was making eggs and then my roommate told me we have bread for toast and then one thing led to another and we soon had a full breakfast.”
  2. I wonder how often “elevator speeches” actually happen on elevators.
  3. Whenever I’m at a fast food place and they ask me, “Is this to stay or to go?” I’m always tempted to reply, “Both.” Just to see how they deal with the apparent contradiction.
  4. When I see a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil, I’m not curious to know what makes it extra-virgin, but instead, I’m curious to know what would make a person extra-virgin. Someone who not only hasn’t had sex but doesn’t even get the idea?
  5. I’d hate to be a claustrophobic fetus.
  6. The slogan “Diamonds are forever” is an epistemological claim that should be dealt with by philosophers, not advertisers.
  7. The first time I walked by a “Nuts 4 Nuts” food stand in Manhattan, I didn’t think, “Man those guys are crazy about eating nuts.” Instead, I thought, “Not a fair trade. I’ll pass.”
  8. I get sick of hearing the same things said to pregnant women. I want to mix it up. Instead of saying “Congratulations!” or “When are you due?” I want to say, “So you’re not a virgin, eh?”
  9. Organic piss is still piss.
  10. Is Naked Juice embarrassed?

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